Iwona's Sources - The State Archives
The Stare Archivies - A Hannful of Information
Church institutions were the source of Polish archival materials from the late 12th century, and a subsequent repository was the Crown Archives, from the mid-14th century. In later centuries, archives were formed from collections of judicial, district, municipal, and family records. The period of the partitions changed the archive map. The Prussian archives had branches in Poznan and Gdansk; the Russians had 10 branches, although a large portion of the archivalia was taken off to st. Petersburg; and the Galician archives were collected mainly in two centers, Lwow and Krakow.
There are at present 90 regional divisions in the whole country, with the headquarters in the capital. You can see the network on the Web page
It happens that metrical records from one locality can be found in two or three branches-as a rule, neighboring each other. Those most parceled out are Greek Catholic metrical records from southeastern Poland, where five branches may possess parts of a given parish: Przemysl, Rzeszow, San ok, Skolyszyn (which may soon be closed), and the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw. To be able to make any headway in this case, your best chance is to take advantage of Pradziad, the virtual directory to metrical records, at http://baza.archiwa.gov.pl/sezam/pradziad.php?l=en.
Another interesting database is ELA, the collection of population lists. The palette of lists varies, depending on the given regional archive: records of permanent and temporary residents, registration books (ksi(j!gi meldunkowe), lists of taxpayers and military conscripts, files of households, repatriants, military, students, prisoners of war, denominational and occupational groups, and so forth. ELA can be accessed online at http://baza.archiwa.gov.pl/sezam/ela.php?l=en .
An important database for all Polish archives is SEZAM, which covers all record sets, including the ones mentioned abo- ve. The search function allows one to limit searches to a single archive (but there is an option for all of them) and to specific periods. One can search without any criteria; all that's necessary is to enter a keyword. The result will be a list of matching sets with information on where they are located, their beginning and ending points, their contents, titles and signatures, volume, and number of units. Polish diacritical marks are not required; this database is adapted to the Roman alphabet. It's worth trying: http://baza.archiwa.gov.pl/sezam/sezam.php?l=en .
The State Archives in Warsaw has already made accessible over the Internet about 240,000 metrical records from 10 Warsaw parishes, at http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/.
The State Archives have their own publishing facility, and every year new publications appear, such as compilations of collections and sources, monographs, dictionaries, archival aids, bibliographies, memorial, periodicals, and albums.
They cooperate with archives outside Poland, and especially with those holding collections lost due to geopolitical changes. Cooperation agreements have been made with, among others, Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Germany, and Israel. The Director of the State Archives has also arranged cooperation with many other institutions the world over, including, in America, the Museum of Polonia at Orchard Lake, Michigan.
Iwona Dakiniewicz, Łódź, Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
[with translation assistance from William F. Hoffman]
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Last Updated on January 15, 2012